Maryland baseball, despite dropping the three-game set to Ole Miss a week ago, enjoyed an offensive explosion against Rebels’ pitching. The Terps scored 23 runs in the series, pairing home runs and extra base hits with patient at-bats that often turned into walks.

But the fourth matchup between the two this season became a pitcher’s duel, one that Maryland starter Jason Savacool lost. The Terps’ offense mustered a season-low one run against the same starting pitcher they tagged for three over four innings a week ago.

Savacool received minimal run support as an admirable start became his second loss of the season. Maryland (4-5) dropped its opening game of the Cambria College Classic in Minneapolis, 5-1, losing for the fourth time in its last six contests. 

“I’ve loved the way we’ve competed,” coach Rob Vaughn said. “Just been on the wrong side of things at the end more times than we’ve been on the right side.”

The Terps didn’t tally their first hit until the fourth inning as Jack Dougherty put them down with ease, finishing the first three innings with six strikeouts.

Maryland’s best chance came in the seventh inning. The Terps loaded the bases with only one out, chasing Dougherty and bringing premier hitters Matt Shaw and Nick Lorusso to the plate.

[Maryland baseball loses rubber match against Ole Miss, 18-8]

Shaw went down swinging and Lorusso popped out, ending the prime opportunity.

“You have bases loaded one out and we don’t cash in, we don’t get anything, which is what hurt there against a good team,” Vaughn said.

Matt Woods, who entered the game still searching for his first hit of the season, finally broke his team’s scoreless drought in the fourth. He was previously hitless in his first 15 plate appearances on the season before an RBI single evened the game at one run apiece.

Dougherty sent six Terps down on strikes in the first three innings, four of them swinging as they struggled to adjust to his fastball and offspeed pitches. His six innings set a new career high and his seven punchouts tied his previous best.

“Dougherty was unbelievable tonight,” Vaughn said. “He had really, really good stuff.”

Little help from his offense meant Savacool had to be almost perfect, a near-impossible task against a lineup like the Rebels’.

The junior kept Ole Miss (8-2) scoreless through three of the first four innings, the only misstep coming on a second-inning leadoff home run. Savacool, usually a strikeout pitcher, collected 13 of his 15 outs off balls in play.

“It could have gotten messy and [Savacool] didn’t let it,” Vaughn said. “He was outstanding.”

[Jason Savacool, early offense push No. 13 Maryland baseball to 9-2 win over No. 4 Ole Miss]

But his second homer allowed, a two-run shot in the fifth inning to the deepest part of the reconfigured U.S. Bank Stadium, gave the Rebels the lead and the runs they needed to win.

The Terps’ bullpen stepped in after Savacool exited after five innings and three runs allowed but they too couldn’t hold down the Rebels. A two-out, two-run single in the ninth inning put Maryland in an even deeper hole, one that grew too large for a struggling offense to fight out of.

Vaughn intended to use last weekend’s series as a test to see where his program stood against one of the nation’s top teams. His Terps failed in that series, losing two of three. They got a second chance on Friday but again came up short against the defending national champions.

“The biggest test, and this is why you play a schedule like this, is can your guys just continue to operate, can they continue to show up and block out everything and just go play baseball, or do they let the frustration mount?” Vaughn said. “That’s what I want to see.”